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CHATTERTON'S Remains shew great premature power, but are chiefly interesting from his fate. He discovered great boldness of spirit and versatility of talent; yet probably, if he had lived, would not have increased his reputation for genius.
THOMAS WARTON was a man of taste and genius. His Sonnets I cannot help preferring to any in the language.
COWPER is the last of the English poets in the first division of this collection, but though last, not least. He is, after Thomson, the best of our descriptive poets--more minute and graphical, but with less warmth of feeling and natural enthusiasm than the author of The Seasons. He has also fine manly sense, a pensive and interesting turn of thought, tenderness occasionally running into the most touching pathos, and a patriotic or religious zeal mounting almost into sublimity. He had great simplicity with terseness of style : his versification is neither strikingly faulty nor excellent. His occasional copies of verses have great elegance; and his John Gilpin is one of the most humourous pieces in the language.
BURNS concludes the series of the ILLUSTRIOUS Dead; and one might be tempted to write an elegy rather than a criticism on him. In naïvete, in spirit, in characteristic humour, in vivid description of natural objects and of the natural feelings of the heart, he has left behind him no superior.
Of the living poets I wish to speak freely, but candidly.
ROGERS is an elegant and highly polished writer, but without much originality or power. He seenis to have paid the chief attention to his style-Materiam superabat opus. He writes however with an admiration of the Muse, and with an interest in humanity.
CAMPBELL has equal elegance, equal elaborateness, with more power and scope both of thought and fancy. His Pleasures of Hope is too artificial and antithetical; but his Gertrude of Wyoming strikes at the heart of nature, and has passages of extreme interest, with an air of tenderness and sweetness over the whole, like the breath of flowers. Some of his shorter effusions have great force and animation, and a patriotic fire.
BLOOMFIELD'S excellence is confined to a minute and often interesting description of individual objects in nature, in which he is surpassed perhaps by no one.
CRABBE is a writer of great power, but of a perverse and morbid taste. He gives the very objects and feelings he treats of, whether in morals or rural scenery, but he gives none but the most uninteresting or the most painful. His poems are a sort of funeral dirge over human life, but without pity, without hope. He has neither smiles nor tears for his readers.
COLERIDGE has shewn great wildness of conception in his Ancient Marinet, sublimity of imagery in his Ode to the Departing Year, grotesqueness of fancy in his Fire, Famine, and Slaughter, and tenderness of sentiment in his Genevieve. He has however produced nothing equal to
Mr. WORDSWORTH'S characteristic is one, and may be expressed in one word ;- -a power of raising the smallest things in nature into sublimity by the force of sentiment. He attaches the deepest and loftiest feelings to the meanest and most superficial objects. His peculiarity is his combination of simplicity of subject with profundity and power of execution. He has no fancy, no wit, no humour, little descriptive power, no dramatic power, great occasional elegance, with continual rusticity and baldness of allusion ; but he is sublime without the Muse's aid, pathetic in the contemplation of his own and man's nature; add to this, that his style is natural and severe, and his versification sonorous and expressive.
Mr. SOUTHEY'S talent in poetry lies chiefly in fancy and the invention of his subject. Some of his oriental descriptions, characters, and fables, are wonderfully striking and impressive, but there is an air of extravagance in them, and his versification is abrupt, affected, and repulsive. In his early poetry there is a vein of patriotic fervour, and mild and beautiful moral reflection.
Sir WALTER SCOTT is the most popular of our living poets. His excellence is romantic narrative and picturesque description. He has great bustle, great rapidity of action and flow of versification, with a
sufficient distinctness of character, and command of the ornaments of style. He has neither lofty imagination, nor depth or intensity of feeling; vividness of mind is apparently his chief and pervading excellence.
Mr. C. LAMB has produced no poems equal to his prose writings: but I could not resist the temptation of transferring into this collection his Farewell to Tobacco, and some of the sketches in his John Woodvil; the first of which is rarely surpassed in quaint wit, and the last in pure feeling.
MONTGOMERY is an amiable and pleasing versifier, who puts his heart and fancy into whatever he composes.
Lord BYRON'S distinguishing quality is intensity of conception and expression. He wills to be sublime or pathetic. He has great wildness of invention, brilliant and elegant fancy, caustic wit, but no humour. Gray's description of the poetical character—". Thoughts that glow, and words that burn,”-applies to him more than to any of his contemporaries.
THOMAS MOORE is the greatest wit now living. His light, ironical pieces are unrivalled for point and facility of execution. His fancy is delightful and brilliant, and his songs have gone to the heart of a nation.
LEIGH HUNT has shewn great wit in his Feast of the Poets, elegance in his occasional verses, and power of description and pathos in his Story of Rimini. The whole of the third canto of that poem is as chaste as it is classical.
The late Mr. SHELLEY (for he is dead since the commencement of this publication) was chiefly distinguished by a fervour of philosophic speculation, which he clad in the garb of fancy, and in words of Tyrian die. He had spirit and genius, but his eagerness to give effect and produce conviction often defeated his object, and bewildered himself and his readers.
Lord THURLOW has written some very unaccountable, but some occasionally good and feeling poetry.
Mr. KEATS is also dead. He gave the greatest promise of genius of any poet of his day. He displayed extreme tenderness, beauty, originality and delicacy of fancy; all he wanted was manly strength and fortitude to reject the temptations of singularity in sentiment and expression. Some of his shorter and later pieces are, however, as free from faults as they are full of beauties.
Mr. MILMAN is a writer of classical taste and attainments rather than of original genius. Poeta nascitur-non fit.
Of BOWLES'S Sonnets it is recommendation enough to say, that they were the favourites of Mr. Coleridge's youthful mind.
It only remains to speak of Mr. BARRY CORNWALL, who, both in the Drama, and in his other poems, has shewn brilliancy and tenderness of fancy, and a fidelity to truth and nature, in conceiving the finer movements of the mind equal to the felicity of his execution in expressing them.
Some additions have been made in the Miscellaneous part of the volume, from the Lyrical effusions of the elder Dramatists, whose beauty, it is presumed, can never decay, whose sweetness can never cloy!